Thu, Sep 01, 2011 - Page 1 News List

Taiwan must have ‘strike back’ capability: US report

By Nadia Tsao  /  Staff Reporter in Washington

The newly manufactured Hsiung Feng (“Brave Wind”) III anti-ship missile is displayed at this year’s Taipei Aerospace and Defense Technology Exhibition in Taipei on August 10.

Photo: CNA

Although former premier Tang Fei (唐飛) said on Aug. 17 that Taiwan’s indigenous Hsiung Feng III anti-ship missile would be like a mosquito’s bite on an elephant, a new report by a US think tank argues that Taiwan must have “some means of hitting back against Chinese military targets.”

“The ability to hit back at Chinese military targets may not have profound operational effects, but when an inferior force takes on a superior one, the ability to strike back has a nontrivial strategic and psychological impact on an attacker,” said the 38-page Asian Alliances in the 21st Century report, released on Tuesday by the Washington-based think tank Project 2049 Institute.

The report states that US allies in the Asia-Pacific region should closely observe China’s strategies against Taiwan because if Beijing believes its “unrelenting intimidation of Taiwan has worked,” then it “may attempt the same strategy to quiet other ‘troublemakers’ in the region.”

The report added that US allies in the Asia-Pacific should adjust their national defense strategies in accordance with Beijing’s tactics against Taiwan.

“In the event that Taiwan falls into China’s hands, Asia could be cut in half, the US command of the Pacific would be further imperiled, the South China Sea could become a Chinese lake, and Japan would lose strategic depth,” the report said.

“China has built up the wherewithal [of] ... air and missile campaigns and maritime blockades [and] is developing capabilities to conduct an air and sea denial strategy against forward-deployed US and Japanese forces, [as] in terms of its ‘command of the commons strategy,’ the United States is most vulnerable to threats to its command of space and cyberspace,” it said.

“Taiwan obviously needs a lethal air force as well. F-16C/Ds can ride out the initial missile barrage in underground bunkers and then conduct air-to-air and maritime strike missions enabled by Taiwan’s own Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) and a common operating picture provided by the allies,” it said.

“If US administrations are really concerned about the survivability of aircraft in Taiwan, given the threat environment, the United States should consider selling Taiwan vertical and/or short take-off and landing (V/STOL) aircraft or help speed up Taipei’s missile programs,” it said.

“If US and Japanese conventional forces make it clear that they are ready to interpose themselves between Chinese forces and Taiwan through combat air patrols, a ground presence on the island, and counter-blockade operations, then the Chinese may think twice about striking the island in the first place,” the report said.

Translated by Jake Chung, Staff writer

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